Mind blown: This secret will eliminate obesity from modern society
While I was happily munching a donut, and perhaps while you were struggling through the latest diet and exercise fad, a kidney doctor over in Canada named Jason Fung has quietly cracked the obesity code. He has elegantly solved the age-old riddle, how can every human being on the planet attain their ideal weight and maintain it for life. The answer is surprisingly simple, at first glance counter-intuitive, and most importantly, very much within the realm of possibility for each and every one of us — even if you weigh 456 pounds.
For a complete and utterly convincing treatment, you can read Dr. Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, read his blog, or watch him on YouTube. For the short answer, read on.
The secret to weight loss that fat people since the beginning of time have been searching for is this: Just like every system in our bodies is regulated by hormones, so is our system of fat. Fat growth or fat loss is fully regulated by the presence or absence of insulin in the blood. Presence means growth, absence means loss. End of story. No caveats. No small print. Just some really interesting consequences and a few worthy footnotes.
First consequence: Your weight does not depend on how much you exercise. But we knew that already.
The second consequence is something you never expected and won’t believe until you read Dr. Fung’s book: Not only does your weight not depend on how much you exercise, it also doesn’t depend on what you eat! In fact, of the three things you could possibly eat — carbs, protein, or fat — fat triggers the least amount of insulin to be released into the blood, and thus causes the least amount of weight gain. Virgin olive oil is positively good for you. Talk about counterintuitive.
You are right to expect a footnote here. The footnote is this: Though all foods trigger a significant release of insulin — the first release coming literally in anticipation as you prepare to shovel your first bite of food into your mouth — some foods trigger more insulin release than others. Well, namely one bad guy — you guessed it — sugar. So avoid sugar — especially sugar that has been disconnected from its natural habitat, because, well…those sugars are especially evil…beyond words.
Second footnote: Some foods offer protection from insulin. Just two, actually: vinegar and fiber. So eat more vinegar. Eat more fiber. Dr. Fung recommends two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before each meal. That alone will cause weight loss, regardless of what you’re eating — a 2010 scientific study proved it (chapter 16, footnote 28). The metabolic mechanism by which vinegar blocks insulin release is currently unknown. That such a mechanism exists is well-proven by numerous studies. Take two teaspoons of vinegar immediately before your meal, and immediately after your meal your insulin level will be 34% lower than if you hadn’t taken the vinegar. If you’re looking for a worthy PhD or post-doc research topic, look no further: find the mechanism that makes vinegar the elixir of good health.
The protective mechanism of fiber is better understood. Fiber makes us feel fuller and slows down the digestive process, resulting in less food entering the system — so less overall insulin — over a longer period of time — so the insulin spike is blunted. Any fiber will do, but if you have the means, Dr. Fung recommends root of the elephant yam, also known as glucomannan or konjac.
Third footnote: The more we expose our bodies to insulin by eating, the more our bodies become resistant to insulin, and therefore the more insulin our bodies will release next time we eat. It’s a vicious cycle, and explains why we keep getting fatter. Every person on the earth has a certain level of insulin intolerance due to this vicious cycle, and this level of intolerance exactly corresponds to our “body set weight”, i.e. the weight to which our body is set and will always try to return to, no matter how far we get away from it by either restricting calories or overeating. This is an incredible revelation that causes everything we already knew about dieting to suddenly make sense: I can force myself to cut calories for a whole year, but I’ll still feel hungry and eventually return to my original weight. Or I can gorge myself over the holidays, gain 10 pounds in 3 weeks, and then congratulate myself 2 months later when I’ve lost it after a super-human dieting effort. In both cases, the truth of the matter is that I have a body set weight that I will always return to, no matter how much I temporarily under- or over-eat. Feelings of hunger and of being full are both regulated by hormones whose levels are exactly tuned to our body set weight. Cutting calories doesn’t trick these hormones. And amazingly, eating too much also doesn’t trick them — studies show that gaining weight is about as hard as losing weight.
Given our modern eating habits, this vicious cycle of ever-increasing insulin resistance naturally adds 1–2 pounds a year to a person’s body set weight. That’s why, in modern, Western societies, we get fatter as we age.
The way to slow down this cycle is to limit the number of times per day we spike our insulin, which translates to…stop snacking…and skip meals when you aren’t hungry — especially breakfast.
Fortunately, it’s also possible to reset our body weight altogether, to something lower, in one fell swoop. Amazingly, it’s relatively easy. And anyone can do it. One word explains it all: Fasting.
In my next installment, I will share the so-far-successful results of my own experimentation over the past 16 months with the wonderful secret of fasting. Spoiler: So far I’ve reset my body weight 20 pounds lower with two fasts — 8 days and 5 days. That was without Dr. Fung’s advice — I’m still eating a daily donut and lots of snacks between meals. But now that I understand the obesity code, this year I’m going to take my weight loss to a whole new level. Stay tuned!